2021 Multiple Sclerosis Programs are live! Learn more about our upcoming adventures for young adults living with MS.
Holly Adnan is a Registered Nurse who lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, just outside of Vail. Holly received her Bachelors Degree of Science in Nursing from the University of Arizona and has been a nurse since 1995. Her background includes working with cardiac medical and surgical patients, renal transplants, obstetrics and emergency room and trauma nursing. Holly currently works at Keystone Medical Clinic at the base of Keystone Ski Resort as an RN in the emergency room and as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator. She also serves as the Director for Think First, a non-profit, international injury prevention program that focuses on the education of youth regarding the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries. The program provides education and gives away free bike and ski helmets to those in need. Holly has been a volunteer with First Descents since 2004 and describes her time each year with the camp as her “best week of the year”. She enjoys traveling the world, snowboarding, telemark skiing, hiking and spending time with her husband Ken and their two small children, Satori and Bodhi. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Ken Adnan is a board certified Emergency and family practice physician practicing in Colorado. An avid outdoorsman and cancer survivor himself, Ken has been volunteering for First Descents since 2004. Email: [email protected]
Pam Tokaz has a private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Austin, Tx. Her practice spans post partum and prenatal issues to individual and family therapy with a focus on postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, grief and life transitional issues. Pam has volunteered in Austin in leadership and developmental capacities for the past 25years. Several areas of particular interest have been with the Runaway Hotline, Capital Area Mental Health clinic, Family Connections, Wonders and Worries, Ronal McDonald House and Any Baby Can. She has been a facilitator for several groups , while maintaining an ongoing Postpartum Support for Moms group for the past three years. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Tokaz is a practicing Medical Oncologist and has been in Austin now for some 25 years. He works with Texas Oncology, is the Medical Director at South Austin Cancer Center, and serves on the Board of Trustees at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. Larry has been a strong community advocate advancing the awareness and in cancer treatment and survival hope over the last 25 years. His undergraduate education was at Rice University, medical school at UT Southwestern, and post graduate time at the University of North Carolina and at UT San Antonio. He and Pam have three wonderful children ages 25-29, enjoy spending anytime they can together, and traveling (often times in an attempt to see their on the go Kids). Larry divides his career between helping patients deal with their cancer in the most compassionate and understanding way possible and finding important time to spend with his family and friends. He loves a good hike in the mountains to gain and retain personal perspective. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Larry Smith is an emergency physician who practices in Washington state and has volunteered for First Descents since 2006. He lives with his wife in the North Cascades town of Mazama. Originally from the Midwest, they bounced around the globe with the military for a few years before finally finding a suitable place to indulge their interests in mountain sports. Dr. Smith has been serving as the Medical Director for First Descents since 2009. Email:[email protected]
Michelle Snyder is a Senior Vice President at Epocrates Inc, one of the country’s leading health care technology companies. With a door as a desk and a beanbag as a chair, Michelle was one of the early employees at the company in 1999. Her leadership helped the company grow from a small Silicon Valley startup to a successful publically traded company. Prior to Epocrates, Michelle worked in health policy in Washington D.C. and did consulting for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and venture capital firms. Michelle received her BA from Carleton College and her MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. In addition to First Descents, Michelle also serves on the board of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, which provides low income women in the San Francisco Bay Area with the training and funding to realize their dreams as entrepreneurs. Michelle lives in San Francisco with her husband and their son Cooper Ridge. She loves to be outside hiking, biking or exploring and can’t wait to travel the world again soon – her favorite trips have included Bhutan, Burma, Patagonia and Namibia. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Brad Zebrack is Associate Professor, University of Michigan School of Social Work, and a member of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Socio-Behavioral Program. For the past 20 years his research has focused on cancer survivorship, and has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, and HopeLab Foundation. Dr. Zebrack is particularly interested in the effects of cancer on the psychosocial growth and development of adolescents and young adults. Dr. Zebrack has served as a consultant to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Planet Cancer, Fertile Hope and the Children’s National Brain Tumor Foundation, all national organizations dedicated to providing support and information to young adult cancer survivors. Working with the LiveStrongTM Young Adult Alliance and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCC), Dr. Zebrack is currently involved in the development of clinical care guidelines for adolescents and young adults with cancer. Dr. Zebrack is a 25-year survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, diagnosed in 1985 at the age of 25. In 1989, Brad and his wife Joanne completed a one-year 11,000-mile bicycle tour around the United States to promote cancer survivorship. Brad and Joanne live in Ann Arbor, Michigan with their 8-year old daughter Sierra Grace and cat Cal. Email: [email protected]
Robbie Gluckson is the Director of Marketing, Development & Community Outreach for UCLA Health’s Department of Medicine. A senior marketing executive formerly associated with the Premiere Oncology Foundation, Oakwood Worldwide, the Pritikin Longevity Centers and Architectural Digest, Ms. Gluckson is a true believer that healthcare is a fundamental right — not a privilege. She is a champion of patient rights and world-class medical services delivered with compassion — one patient at a time. Her passions include patient advocacy, the patient experience and seamless patient navigation. Ms. Gluckson holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College and an M.A. in Print Journalism from USC. She has been recognized by the LA Business Journal as a finalist for The Leadership Excellence Award for Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship.
Ms. Tesar has been involved in the field of Molecular Imaging since 1993. Ms Tesar gained her experience in PET center operations where she continues to provide management oversight as the CEO to Northern California PET Imaging Center, the first free-standing PET center established in the US. The PET center team helped to establish the data to support many of the clinical indications for PET in oncology and continues to be a leader in the PET field. She was involved as a founding officer in the start up of PETNET Pharmaceuticals in 1996, still the market leader in the provision of PET radiopharmaceuticals to imaging and research facilities. Most recently she has been involved in a cooperative venture to produce novel biomarkers for research, ultimately for clinical use. She was instrumental in gaining insurance coverage for PET procedures by private payers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She has served as President of the Institute for Clinical PET (now the Academy for Molecular Imaging) and has served as a Board member of that organization for seven years. Ms. Tesar has authored multiple peer-reviewed papers and abstracts on the subjects of clinical PET, the cost benefits of using PET in clinical practice, and the payment for PET procedures. She is an invited speaker on the subjects of reimbursement and marketing for PET and clinical PET. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University, Nuclear Medicine Technology Training from the University of California at Davis, and completed graduate work in health administration and health policy at the University of Southern California. She is located in Sacramento, California. Email: [email protected]
Dr. Archie Bleyer’s interest in Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology began in the mid 1990s when he became aware that the progress in cancer he had personally witnessed in children had not occurred in adolescents. As Chair of the Children’s Cancer Group, he formed the CCG AYA Committee and in 1999, had the U.S. National Cancer Institute conduct a workshop on the topic. He subsequently engaged the Children’s Oncology Group, NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, U.S. President’s Cancer Panel, American Society of Clinical Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Lance Armstrong Foundation and Aflac Insurance Company in a national AYA oncology initiative. The initiative has since been joined by the United Kingdom’s Teenage Cancer Trust, U.S. NCI Director’s Office (Program Review Group), Planet Cancer, First Descents, CanTeen, Teen Impact, Enzon Pharmaceuticals, CancerCare, Hyundai Corporation, and multiple cancer centers in the U.S., Australia, and Europe. During his pediatric oncology career, Dr. Bleyer was awarded more than $75 million research grants as a Principal Investigator from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and Leukemia Society of America. His current clinical research mission is dedicated to improving the outcome of young adults with cancer who have not fared as well as younger and older patients. Email: [email protected]
Daniel H. Silverman, MD, PhD is Head of the Neuronuclear Imaging Section of the Ahmanson Translational Imaging Division at University of California, Los Angeles. He also serves as Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, and on the Executive Committee of the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Dr. Silverman obtained his PhD in Biological Chemistry at Harvard University, and completed postdoctoral research training in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. He received his MD from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and subsequently completed post-MD training at UCLA, before being board-certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Nuclear Medicine. Dr. Silverman’s main research areas involve: 1) neuronuclear imaging, especially to explore cognitive function and dysfunction, associated with factors such as Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and chemotherapy, exogenous or endogenous hormonal status, and mood; and 2) the evaluation and management of neoplastic disease (especially breast cancer and lymphoma). With respect to the first of these areas, Dr. Silverman organized an international consortium of facilities investigating the role of FDG PET brain imaging in the evaluation of dementia, whose article in the Journal of American Medical Association (2001; 286: 2120-2127) remains the largest to date to assess the diagnostic accuracy in patients with autopsy-confirmed diagnoses. This investigation firmly established the accuracy of PET in assisting diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementias, demonstrating that adding brain PET to the work-up for the evaluation of early dementia yields a high sensitivity for Alzheimer’s disease with an overall diagnostic accuracy that substantially exceeds that achievable by clinical evaluation alone. It has further been found that PET used in this context provides substantial prognostic value, permitting accurate predictions of future cognitive course, even years in advance of the expression of those symptoms. He is also heading a national consortium of facilities to investigate the utility of PET in the evaluation of mild decline in cognition, the Metabolic Cerebral Imaging in Incipient Dementia (MCI-ID) trial. Dr. Silverman is the editor and a co-author of PET in the Evaluation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (Springer, c. 2009), the first book entirely focused upon the use of PET for patients with neurodegenerative disease, and co-author of Your Brain After Chemo (Da Capo Press/Perseus, c. 2009), focused upon cognitive dysfunction occurring in patients who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer. As a product of his R&D of the clinical application of neuronuclear imaging, he co-invented the underlying algorithms incorporated in NeuroQ (distributed by Syntermed, Inc.), the first software package dedicated to the display and analysis of brain PET scans to be cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration for that purpose. In addition to his research and authorship activities, Dr. Silverman has practiced during the past 14+ years as an attending physician on the Nuclear Medicine in-patient and out-patient services at UCLA Medical Center, teaches medical imaging in graduate courses at UCLA, and heads the NeuroPET Preceptorship, a two-day CME program (12.5 Category credits) focusing upon brain PET and PET/CT, offered through the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Email: [email protected]
A nationally-recognized expert, Dr. Leonard Senders serves as the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Programs at CHOC Children’s, leading one of the nation’s largest programs focused on the unique needs of cancer patients ages 15-39 years old.
As a pioneer in oncology treatment for more than 20 years, Dr. Sender specializes in treating adolescents and young adults (AYAs), a largely unknown and underrepresented group in the war on cancer. His team offers a comprehensive approach toward AYA patient cancer care and survivorship that considers their unique challenges, including preservation of fertility, management of acute and chronic effects of treatment, and the psychosocial impact.
As an innovative leader in research, Dr. Sender is conducting extensive studies to improve outcomes and quality of life for AYAs. His research includes epidemiological components (incidence, prevalence, root causes), biological factors (genetic or cellular differences), the psychosocial impact and long-term cancer survivorship. He serves on the Adolescent and Young Adult Committee for Children’s Oncology Group, a cooperative group to accelerate research for childhood and adolescent cancer. Dr. Sender is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. A passionate advocate for AYA’s with cancer, Dr. Sender serves as chairman of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance Cancer Centers Working Group, chairman of the I’m Too Young for This foundation, and is a founding member and chairman of SeventyK.org.
Dedicated to clinical excellence, Dr. Sender is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. Prior to joining CHOC Children’s, Dr. Sender served as an adult hematologist/oncologist at the University of Kentucky where he was a faculty member in the School of Medicine. Dr. Sender conducted his pediatrics internship and residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. He completed part of his pediatrics hematology/oncology subspecialty training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He received medical education in South Africa.
Dr. Sender is consistently voted as one of Orange County’s Top Doctors by the Orange County Medical Association.
Liz Sherwood is from New Orleans but it was the family’s move to Santa Barbara, CA that put her in touch with her love of being outside whether it was hiking, swimming in the ocean, riding her bike, playing tennis, canoeing, sailing, skiing and being in the mountains as well as checking out the flora and fauna. She continues to love to explore and is currently spending a lot of her time in Mexico when not in the US.
She first volunteered with First Descents in 2012 so she could check it out before referring folks she worked with at the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital. She was really impressed! Now she helps as a medical volunteer and medical reviewer. She worked for many years at UNC as a nurse practitioner and the clinical coordinator of their survivorship program and LIVESTRONG™ Center of Excellence and now has started her own business.
Terez Malka is completing her medical residency with dual training in Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics. She plans on continuing her career as academic faculty in an adult and pediatric emergency department with a research focus on wilderness medicine and disaster response. Terez is a former whitewater slalom kayaker and raft guide and looks forward to getting back on the water now that her medical training is complete! She has been aware of First Descents since its inception and is delighted to finally be involved on the medical advisory board and as an enthusiastic volunteer